The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), on Friday May 31, stormed the Kasoa Central Market with its inclusive public education against the harmful effects of tobacco use in Ghana. The move forms part of activities mapped out by the Authority to mark this year’s World No Tobacco Day (WNTD).
The WNTD which falls on 31st May of every year is a day set aside by the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness on the dangers associated with tobacco use across the world. The focus of this year’s World No Tobacco Day is “Tobacco and Lung Health”.
The campaign is to increase awareness on the negative impact tobacco has on people’s lung health, from cancer to chronic respiratory disease, the fundamental role lungs play in the health and the well-being of all people, among others. The campaign also serves as a call to action, advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption and engaging stakeholders across multiple sectors in the fight for tobacco control.
Olivia Boateng, Head of Tobacco and Substance Abuse at the FDA, who led a team of over 100 youth to the Kasoa Market noted that, this year Ghana has adopted the catch phrase “don’t let tobacco take your breath away” to emphasize the importance of the lungs and why there must be conscious efforts to protect it by avoiding lifestyles that stand the chance of damaging it.
“What we are saying is Tobacco affects every part of your body, but we have decided to talk exclusively about the lungs today because it is a predisposing factor for all lung diseases. Lung cancers, respiratory diseases, respiratory infections, like asthma and TB are exacerbated with Tobacco use, so we are concentrating on lungs today,” she stated.
According to her, tobacco contains over 7000 chemicals and most of them apart from the nicotine are also cancerogenic, which is why the FDA decided to move to the markets and transport terminals to create the awareness about the dangers of tobacco use, to demotivate smokers to quit and also to engage those who intends to start smoking not to start it at all because it is addictive and when one starts it would be extremely difficult to quit.
In an interview with ghananewsonline.com.gh, Boateng the Authority is worried about the increasing number of the youth in Ghana who are into shisha use, adding that the authority is doing its best to bring the situation under control.
She said currently per the laws of Ghana, tobacco remains a banned legal product but with regulations and so the Authority has been playing its part by ensuring that the awareness creation gets to everybody.
Part Six of Ghana’s Public Health Act (Act 851) of 2012 has a comprehensive overview on tobacco control in the country. It mandates the FDA to ensure a smoke free for all. Among others, the law bans public smoking, advertising and promotion. It also bans the sale of Tobacco to children.
“Though tobacco is still a legal products in our books, the law also mandates us to do extensive public education about the dangers that comes with tobacco use. Some of the provisions are geared towards reduction in tobacco use are introducing pictorial health warnings. Now you can see on our tobacco products pictures of tobacco users, passive smokers, pregnant women and how it affects the unborn baby, so we are just enforcing the law as it is now. If it changes and is a total ban on tobacco products, we’ll would enforce it,” she stated.
The FDA is set to officially mark the 2019 WNTD on Monday June 3, with a forum at its head offices in Accra where the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang Manu will launch the planned activities. The latest edition of the Ghana Youth Tobacco Survey would also be released.
By Jeorge Wilson Kingson || ghananewsonline.com.gh